RSPO - The devil is in the detail. There is a difference between being a RSPO Member and having RSPO Certification. There is also a difference between having a palm oil plantation RSPO Certified vs what the company, subsidiaries and parent company are doing. Therefore, this makes it difficult to believe any claim of true sustainability of palm oil in products without lengthy investigation.
RSPO Certification criterion states that any new palm oil plantings since November 2005 have not replaced ‘Primary Forest’, or any area required to maintain or enhance one or more High Conservation Values (HCV). ‘Primary Forest’ is defined as a forest that has never been logged and has developed following natural disturbances and under natural processes, regardless of its age.
Unfortunately what is deemed a HCV forest is up to flexible assessment, and forest containing orangutans is frequently assessed as not meeting HCV criteria. Indonesia and Malaysia forest are trashed. There are hardly any pristine or ‘Primary Forests’ left and if there are any left it is in existing national parks. Eighty percent of orangutans live outside protected areas in degraded forest. Orangutans will go extinct without protecting this forest that is home to this 80% of the population.
The RSPO, in part, calls palm oil sustainable if produced from land cleared before 2005. However this still could of been orangutan habitat, killing orangutans. TOP therefore has a firmer approach and will not support palm oil that comes from the islands of Borneo or Sumatra. We acknowledge that palm oil plantations set up on any land will have likely displaced natural habitat, however this is true of all permanent forms of agriculture.
RSPO may one day become a force for good for conservation, therefore TOP recognises both efforts from NGOs that work with and within the RSPO and those that protest against it potential for ‘green washing’ as equally valid and essential roles. TOP sees no valid role for NGO to NGO public criticism and see this as only giving advantage to those that want to destroy orangutan habitat for profit.